Below Rail Infrastructure, Technology and IT, Workforce, Certification & Training

Achieving track maintenance efficiencies through better resource management

Maintenance is a necessary evil for any network operator. By harnessing modern intelligent software to optimise the time management of people and machines, major performance improvements can be made. Rail Express speaks with software provider DELMIA Quintiq about the latest it has to offer.


For every network owner and operator, important decisions must be made around exactly when and how sections of the network are possessed as part of a maintenance regime. Pros and cons are weighed, crucial decisions must be made, and then the work is followed through, hopefully without any costly errors or delays.

DELMIA Quintiq aims to ease the strain on track owners, and solve planning puzzles like this through a single powerful software platform. The global software provider, part of the European-headquartered Dassault Systèmes, has proven capabilities in complex below rail and rail infrastructure projects all over the world.

“Rail operators have long depended on whiteboards, Excel sheets, or simple gantt charts for their planning of their resources,” DELMIA Quintiq’s Cameron Collie says. “Yet planning track maintenance is a highly complex process that puts an enormous strain on planners, reducing the time they have to complete value-added tasks.”

Collie says DELMIA Quintiq aims to provide planners an integrated and adaptive planning solution to create an integrated railway maintenance program. The Dassault Systèmes planning platform removes the burden of complexity from planners by providing true decision support. The software planning engine takes into account the myriad of constraints and rules when creating a plan; such as rules of the route, matching employee availability and skills with machine capabilities to complete the maintenance work, and evaluating competing time slots. This ensures alignment and visibility to all stakeholders in a single, integrated view across all time horizons, thereby providing cross team collaboration, minimising the risk of overruns and removing the possibility of unsafe practices or paper mistakes.

The solution makes optimal use of the allotted time windows by scheduling activities within the windows, and ensures time is tightly managed, including – if safe conditions exist – suggesting possibilities for opportunistic maintenance work. The platform is designed to allow an operator to see all scenarios and decision consequences in real time, and take action proactively.

Ultimately, these factors combine to create major cost savings for an operator when it comes to network maintenance, and subsequent efficiency and performance improvements across the network.

Collie told Rail Express about some of the operational benefits of the type of integrated system the DELMIA Quintiq solution provides.

“We recently went live with one of Australia’s largest heavy haul operators to manage major maintenance events, as well as short-term plans for their maintenance crews,” Collie explains. “By empowering the maintenance team with visibility of operating objectives, they are able to optimally align work orders to outages, ensuring more up time with greater throughput.

“In addition to the traditional benefits of greater utilisation and efficiency of their teams to execute more work orders, the maintenance division now directly contributes to greater network access, which is a huge collaborative and commercial win to the business.”

The DELMIA Quintiq offering is a unique rail planning software, in addition to maintenance planning, the platform is used by local operators such as KiwiRail, Aurizon, Sydney Trains and Queensland Rail to manage their complex crew, fleet and dynamic timetable services.

Boosting efficiency for the Channel Tunnel

Overseas, the DELMIA Quintiq solution is being engaged to improve maintenance efficiency on one of the world’s most famous railway tunnels. Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and with up to 400 trains running each day – equating to a departure through the tunnel roughly once every three minutes – the Channel Tunnel is considered the most heavily used railway tunnel in the world.

Connecting the United Kingdom with continental Europe, the tunnel is used to move passengers, freight, trucks and cars. But just like every other railway, the operation must halt for regular maintenance work.

Unsurprisingly, alignment and allocation of this work program is exceptionally complex and requires meticulous planning. Operator Eurotunnel maintains track, signalling, catenary, and fire extinguishing equipment along the 50-kilometre tunnel, along with all the equipment in the 250 technical rooms between the French and English terminals at either end.

More than 200 technicians are engaged during maintenance shutdowns, working between 60 and 70 sites. 15 work train modules are engaged during maintenance. The key objective of the Eurotunnel maintenance team is to complete all the on-corridor activities safely in the minimum time, to enable maximum network access for operations.

“One of the ways we’ll achieve greater availability of the tunnel for commercial services would be reducing from two nights of maintenance a week, down to one night of maintenance per week,” Eurotunnel’s Director of Public Affairs John Keefe said. “What we’re looking for from the Quintiq tool is the planning capacity to enable us to concentrate our maintenance activities into just one night, and give us that extra capacity.

“Finding the time to do the maintenance necessary to keep the service running at that frequency of departure is essential, and the Quintiq software is going to help us with the fine detail of the planning, and enable us to do a lot more, more efficiently, in the future.”

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